Al-Farouq Aminu will not be returning to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Reports broke on Sunday that Aminu had signed a 3-year, $29 million contract with the Orlando Magic. He will join a team that finished 8th in defensive rating last season and was a playoff entrant last season out east.
The Nigerian forward had an up-and-down season last year for Portland, playing well defensively but not making up for his contributions on the offensive side of the ball. Aminu ended up being a serious hazard on offense. He was often camped out in the corner acting as a release valve for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, but couldn’t make enough of it.
He shot 34 percent on 3-pointers in the corners according to Cleaning the Glass. That wasn’t good enough, and it was exacerbated by the fact that Aminu acted as a spot-up shooter 47 percent of the time on offense — a hugely disproportionate amount — according to Synergy.
Those numbers alone tell you how much the Blazers needed him to be a better-than-average shooter from the corners, which he wasn’t. The geometry of Portland’s offense was such that Aminu’s shooting (and the streakiness of said shooting) could mean winning a game handily or losing via double-digits.
Aminu should be a good enough defender for the Magic moving forward. It’s also possible that they will need to rely on him less as a shooter in the corner, and more as a cutter in transition where he thrives. He can’t really dribble the ball, either, so he’s not going to be a useful player in the pick-and-roll game.
Contextually this makes sense for both teams. Rumor around Portland was that the team wanted to get Aminu back for their taxpayer mid-level exception. We also heard rumors that Aminu wanted north of $10 million per season, which is right around where he landed with his new contract in Orlando.
It was a good experiment for a while in Rip City, and a 37 percent year from 3-point range last season felt like it could have been a tipping point. But things never materialized, Aminu regressed back to his averages. He didn’t deserve a big raise, even in a market that’s overinflated. He got a little bit of a boost up from Orlando, and now the Blazers will have to figure out their big man rotation moving forward.